On Saturday, Dec. 15, more than a dozen area volunteer organizations, including the Civil Air Patrol, Young Marines, Navy Sea Cadets, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Patriot Riders, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, employees from U.S. Xpress and more, will be participating in the Wreaths Across America ceremony distributing wreaths on gravesites at the Chattanooga National Cemetery.
Special guests participating in this year’s ceremony include U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Chris Cotton, who will deliver the keynote address. During the ceremony, representatives wearing WWI period costumes in honor of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day will place seven ceremonial wreaths for the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and POW/MIA to remember those who served, honor their sacrifices and teach younger generations about the high cost of our freedoms. The placing of these wreaths will be coordinated simultaneously at over 1,400 participating locations all across the country.
Last year, 18,000 wreaths were placed on the gravesites of veterans laid to rest at Chattanooga National Cemetery. This year, Chattanooga WAA has received more local donations than ever before, and while the final number for this year has yet to be determined, Civil Air Patrol Maj. Marty Nix, WAA location coordinator, is looking forward to covering many more gravestones this year. Maj. Nix said, “We hope that we will never have to choose again how to distribute wreaths throughout the cemetery, because we will be able to cover them all.”
The need for volunteers will be greater this year due to the increased number of wreaths projected. Volunteers wanting to place wreaths should plan to stay for a couple hours after the noon ceremony. Maj. Nix said, “We’ll need lots of help placing the wreaths at veterans' headstones, and we hope to get them all placed within two or three hours.”
Off-site parking will be available on Saturday, Dec. 15 one mile south of the cemetery at the National Guard Armory. A free shuttle bus will be available to take everyone to the cemetery, starting at 8 a.m. and running until all wreaths are placed in the afternoon. Additional information about parking and directions to the Armory can be found at www.ChattanoogaWAA.com.
U.S. Xpress President and CEO Eric Fuller said, “We’re honored to assist Wreaths Across America with transportation to locations, including Chattanooga National Cemetery. As a company, this effort is one of many ways we pay our respects to veterans and their families.”
The Wreaths Across America story began over 20 years ago when the Worcester Wreath Company from Harrington, Me. initiated a tradition of donating and placing wreaths on the headstones of the nation’s fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. "Recognition of the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and their families, is especially poignant during the traditional holiday season," officials said.
“Wreaths Across America exists today because of the individuals and communities across the country who want to do something to show their gratitude,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. “Placing a wreath is a simple gesture, but people coming together across the country to 'Remember, Honor and Teach,' is what makes us all a part of a larger community of Americans.”
Schedule of events
7 a.m. – A wreath-laden truck sponsored by U.S. Xpress will depart from the company headquarters, 4080 Jenkins Road in Chattanooga. The Chattanooga Police Department will escort the truck from there to Chattanooga National Cemetery.
8-8:30 a.m. – Wreaths will arrive at Chattanooga National Cemetery. Unloading will begin immediately. Volunteers are asked to be at Chattanooga National Cemetery at this time to assist with unloading.
Noon – The ceremony begins. There will be a call to order followed by a moment of silence observed simultaneously at over 1,400 locations. After the national anthem, there will be an address and artillery salute.
12:20 p.m. – Family members that have previously sponsored wreaths for a specific headstone will begin laying wreaths on gravesites in honor of and in celebration of the lives of fallen service members. Hundreds of volunteers will be needed help place the remainder of the wreaths on thousands of gravestones until all the wreaths are placed, up to an additional two or three hours. Shuttles buses will run, taking volunteers back to their cars, until the last wreath is placed.
For further information about the Chattanooga event, including directions and parking, visit
www.ChattanoogaWAA.com or www.facebook.com/WreathsAcrossChattanooga.